Poll position: on electoral reforms beyond simultaneous elections

Poll position: on electoral reforms beyond simultaneous elections

There are meaningful electoral reforms beyond simultaneous elections

It is perhaps(शायद) no surprise that political parties are deeply(गहराई से) divided(विभाजित) over the idea of holding simultaneous(एक साथ) elections for the Lok Sabha and the State Assemblies. During(दौरान/की अवधि में) consultations(विचार-विमर्श) initiated(आरंभ करना) by the Law Commission of India, nine parties opposed(विरोधी/सामने का) it, arguing(बहस) that it went against the constitutional(संवैधानिक ) fabric(रचना/निर्माण) and that it would be impractical(असंभव). Four parties backed the concept(अवधारणा ). The BJP has sought time for a detailed(विस्तृत) response, though it is Prime Minister Narendra Modi who has been advocating(वकालत/हिमायत करना) the idea. The Congress has now spoken out against the proposal. In principle, there are obvious(स्पष्ट/ज़ाहिर) advantages to the ‘one nation, one election’ idea — election expenditure will be drastically(काफी) cut and ruling dispensations(व्यवस्था/वितरण) will be able to focus on legislation and governance rather than having to be in campaign(अभियान) mode forever. However, as many of the naysayers have pointed out, the idea is fraught(भरपूर/भरा हुआ) with practical difficulties. Also, some parties fear that a simultaneous poll, particularly in this era(युग/काल) where news is easily and widely disseminated(फैलाया/प्रचारित किया हुआ), will privilege(सुविधा/विशेषाधिकार) national issues over regional ones even if, arguably(यकीनन), the reverse may happen too. The issue is that synchronisation(तुल्यकालन) would involve(शामिल) curtailment(कटौती) or extension(वृद्धि/विस्तार) of the tenure(कार्यकाल/अवधि) of a House — the legal propriety of which is questionable.

The key proposal is that Assemblies be bunched(बांटा जा सकता है ) into two categories based on whether their terms end close to the 2019 or the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. Elections could be held for one group in 2019, and for another in 2024 so that subsequent(आगामी) elections could be synchronised. Or, polls could be held for one group along with the 2019 election, and for the rest 30 months later, so that there is a round of elections every two and a half years. An attempt(प्रयास) at solving the problem of regimes(शासन-काल/व्यवस्था) falling due to lack of majority(बहुमत) is the proposal for a ‘constructive(रचनात्मक ) vote of no-confidence’. This means that when passing a motion expressing lack of trust in a regime, legislators(विधायक/कानून निर्माता) must necessarily propose an alternative(वैकल्पिक/विकल्प). If a mid-term(मध्यकालीन ) election has to be held, the term of such a House would only be for the remainder of its tenure. These two recommendations(सिफ़ारिश ) may partially address the question raised by the DMK on whether all Assemblies would be dissolved(भंग/विघटित) too if the Lok Sabha has to be prematurely dissolved. However, it is unclear if it will be palatable(रुचिकर/मज़ेदार) for all parties to invest their time and resources(संसाधन/उपाय) in an election that would win them only a curtailed(कटौती/संक्षिप्त करना) term. Allowing a one-time waiver(त्याग/छूट-पत्र) of the anti-defection law to enable the House to elect a leader in the event(घटना/परिणाम) of a hung House is another proposal. However, these reforms(सुधारों) can be adopted even without simultaneous elections. Also, there are many pressing(दबाव/संकोचन) reforms needed in the electoral space including(समेत/सहित) curbing(नियंत्रण करना) the use of black money to fund elections and tackling the staggered(घबराहट) manner in which elections are held in many States.

 

 

Important Vocabulary

1.Staggered(घबराहट)
Synonyms: careen, falter, lurch, reel, shake
Antonyms: carry on, continue, stay

2.Simultaneous(एक साथ)
Synonyms: concurrent, accompanying, agreeing, at the same time, coetaneous
Antonyms: different, divided, following, preceding

3.Initiated(आरंभ करना)
Synonyms: proposed, admitted, entered, inserted, instituted

4.Arguing(बहस)
Synonyms: contend, disagree, dispute, quarrel, quibble
Antonyms: agree, concur, give in, make peace, abstain

5.Obvious(स्पष्ट/ज़ाहिर)
Synonyms: accessible, clear, conspicuous, discernible, distinct
Antonyms: ambiguous, concealed, dark, disputable

6.Dispensations(व्यवस्था/वितरण)
Synonyms: disbursement, allotment, appointment, apportionment, award, bestowal
Antonyms: disfavor, whole, denial, veto

7.Curtailment(कटौती)
Synonyms: abbreviation, condensation, cutback, reduction
Antonyms: enlargement, increase

8.Tenure(कार्यकाल/अवधि)
Synonyms:administration, occupation, ownership, regime, reign
Antonyms: misconception, misunderstanding, release

10.Curbing(नियंत्रण करना)
Synonyms: constrain, contain, control, hamper, hinder
Antonyms: advance, aid, allow, assist, encourage

11.Palatable(रुचिकर/मज़ेदार)
Synonyms: acceptable, appetizing, attractive, enjoyable, pleasant
Antonyms: disagreeable, repulsive, unacceptable, unattractive, unhappy

 

 

Credit To The Hindu News Paper

It is perhaps no surprise that political parties are deeply divided over the idea of holding simultaneous elections for the Lok Sabha and the State Assemblies. During consultations initiated by the Law Commission of India, nine parties opposed it, arguing that it went against the constitutional fabric and that it would be impractical. Four parties backed the concept. The BJP has sought time for a detailed response, though it is Prime Minister Narendra Modi who has been advocating the idea. The Congress has now spoken out against the proposal. In principle, there are obvious advantages to the ‘one nation, one election’ idea — election expenditure will be drastically cut and ruling dispensations will be able to focus on legislation and governance rather than having to be in campaign mode forever. However, as many of the naysayers have pointed out, the idea is fraught with practical difficulties. Also, some parties fear that a simultaneous poll, particularly in this era where news is easily and widely disseminated, will privilege national issues over regional ones even if, arguably, the reverse may happen too. The issue is that synchronisation would involve curtailment or extension of the tenure of a House — the legal propriety of which is questionable.

The key proposal is that Assemblies be bunched into two categories based on whether their terms end close to the 2019 or the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. Elections could be held for one group in 2019, and for another in 2024 so that subsequent elections could be synchronised. Or, polls could be held for one group along with the 2019 election, and for the rest 30 months later, so that there is a round of elections every two and a half years. An attempt at solving the problem of regimes falling due to lack of majority is the proposal for a ‘constructive vote of no-confidence’. This means that when passing a motion expressing lack of trust in a regime, legislators must necessarily propose an alternative. If a mid-term election has to be held, the term of such a House would only be for the remainder of its tenure. These two recommendations may partially address the question raised by the DMK on whether all Assemblies would be dissolved too if the Lok Sabha has to be prematurely dissolved. However, it is unclear if it will be palatable for all parties to invest their time and resources in an election that would win them only a curtailed term. Allowing a one-time waiver of the anti-defection law to enable the House to elect a leader in the event of a hung House is another proposal. However, these reforms can be adopted even without simultaneous elections. Also, there are many pressing reforms needed in the electoral space including curbing the use of black money to fund elections and tackling the staggered manner in which elections are held in many States.

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